Big Bend National Park has three distinct sections of hikes: mountain hikes, desert hikes and river hikes. My dad and I were sure to do at least one hike in each section. The hikes we chose for our desert section were Tuff Canyon and the Chimneys Trail.
⋙ Chimneys Trail:
This 4.8 mile hike follows a rock-lined path that cuts right through a section of the Chihuahua Desert to a collection of rocks gathered with funky shapes and formations. Be sure to being plenty of water and try to avoid this hike in the heat of the day as there is no shade on this trail until you get to the chimneys.
This is a view of the chimneys in the distance [the lowest section see in the above photo]
Big Bend is home to over 1000 species of plant-life, but my favorite of these were the amazing and unique desert succulents & cacti. Even at home I’m a succulent & cacti lover, so my dad was constantly having to wait on me to snap photos of each different variety I saw.
This photo shows the rock trail and the chimneys are starting to appear to be a bit closer
Native American Petroglyphs lined one of the rock-faces. These made a beautiful addition to the many reasons to take this hike. Along this same rock there were Native American cliff dwellings and under the overhangs and in that surrounding area were several mortar holes used my past Native cultures to grind up grain or other food material.
An example of one of the many mortar holes we saw
Chimneys Arch from below – we were sure to climb up to the other side
Looking out across the desert toward Chimneys Arch
When looking through the window of Chimneys Arch you see this rock formation – this is the same one with the petroglyphs, dwellings and the much-needed shade.
There wasn’t a better seat in the house.
⋙ Tuff Canyon
Tuff Canyon is a .75 mile loop that comes over three overlooks. We did a bit of a different route around Tuff Canyon, though. We were standing on the first overlook and I was taking a video looking out over the canyon with my iPhone while my dad was setting up his wrap-around tripod to take a photo of the two of us. I turned around to smile for the camera and just before the photo snapped the camera started to tilt and he jumped forward to straighten it back up – in the process of doing that he knocked my phone right out of my hand and straight down into the canyon. We looked over the canyon to watch it bounce off the wall and then land in the bottom. We went on a salvage mission down into the canyon so I could get the photos off the phone. We reached the bottom where we could see the rail of the first overlook and looked for a shattered phone. My phone (which wasn’t in a case) was laying facedown, but when I picked it up and turned it over I found that the screen was completely intact!!! There were some scrapes and chunks of metal taken out on the sides, but no real damage done!
I can’t say for sure how tall this canyon is, but the man at the bottom (second from left) was about 6 feet tall.
When you visit Big Bend be sure to spend some time in each of the sections because each has its own beauty. Take the time to enjoy the mountain peaks, the little details like the succulents & Native American artifacts of the desert and the amazingness of traversing canyons cut by the Rio Grande & looking across the river into a country with such a different lifestyle from your own.
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